When this madness all started, I saw the above quote and, given that I am a self-declared militant introvert, it made me smile. I’ve seen similar quotes about social distancing.
First of all, let’s be clear. Introversion is not being antisocial. It has to do with energy. I deal with people every day. While that is often rewarding, it can also be exhausting. My wife on the other hand is a dedicated extrovert and so is energized by social contact.
There is no doubt that these days are much harder on extroverts. The need for contact and interaction is not readily met and so extroverts are vulnerable to depression and frustration. Many are being creative in how they maintain contact with others. This may be something good that comes from all this — that technology and creativity can enrich the ways we can connect with one another.
But what of we introverts? Are we secretly cheering when the requirements of quarentine and social distancing are extended into the summer? In my own case, no I don’t cheer. While I am not outgoing, I miss the cancelled opportunities to connect with family and lunch with a handful of friends.
So what can I as an introvert learn from all this? I am reminded first of all that I am not anti-social, that I value human contact. I can challenge myself to do more of what comes easily to an extrovert — reaching out and connecting or re-connecting.
I can be more sensitive to the needs of the extroverts in my life and can take the time to listen and to share. I can challenge myself to take the time to thank the grocery clerk or the mailman or the many other service providers.
I can also draw on my introversion to reflect on some important themes. These days I have become aware of much that I have taken for granted including those who provide me with a service. I miss baseball. I miss bookstores. I am more appreciative of food stuffs (especially eggs!) I like to think that perhaps I will be able to carry that awareness forward.
Spiritually I am challenged to reflect on Fear. As I judge the man leaving the grocery store with four bags of flour, I need to remember that I too panicked when the store was out of eggs. I too can get caught up in catastrophizing and borrowing trouble from tomorrow. I am challenged to live what I claim to believe, especially the Serenity Prayer. Ultimately I need to recall that, if he were alive, Viktor Frankly would be challenging us to find personal meaning in the COVID-19 crisis. He would remind us that we always have a choice as to how we face things that life throws at us. Thus, I can productively ask myself “How do I want to face this crisis?”
REFLECTION: How do you want to face this crisis?
I am enjoying the opportunity to stay home and not have any pressure to either be or do anything. I know I will appreciate simple things a lot more once this is over.
This “lock down” is teaching me something. I am finding out that this might be the last extended period of time that I ever have to spend with my son. Hopefully soon he will be finishing undergraduate, then graduate, then Internships, then Fellowships…..all most likely in another State. I am finding that, as much as I love to be with him, and as lonely as I am without him, he would have been stunted if he had stayed here.
I am learning that my mood is lowered by staying at home too much and I am not the only one. The Substance Use Disorder Programs are having an increase of calls in this State.
I have found that some services like barbers and hair stylists are more essential than I thought. My whole family looks like we live in a cave and now I have to learn to be a barber!
Thank you Rich, again, for the opportunity to look deep inside and reflect. I want to face this crisis with getting comfortable being out of my comfort zone. I am usually going going going and am struggling now making the best use of this time to relax and reflect. I am finding myself taking on many social issues that I feel strongly about and addressing ALL of them on social media. Much to the chagrin of those who disagree with my opinions. LOL I was furloughed from work 2 weeks ago and am scheduled to continue through June 8 or longer. So I have time to chill out, let go and let God, and like you, to learn to live the Serenity Prayer. Thank you for letting me share my thoughts.
Love you my friend,
Richard, I find it almost annoying that you and I are on the same page, me being an extrovert ++ like your beautiful, talented, wonderful spouse, whom I adore. But you are right. I have an introvert child, who lives with me and we are challenged by the closeness. I have no one else to pour out on, and he is annoyed. We seem to be getting better every day, though. Something to be grateful for. The Serenity Prayer and Frankly’s comments are spot on. Keep searching within when you can’t go out!!
Love this article and I relate on so many levels, except about the eggs!
Thanks for your guidance and writing.